Thursday, June 05, 2008

Is Yeshua Divine? - Clearing up confusion.

Is Yeshua Divine? - Clearing up confusion.

During some preparatory teachings prior to Mikha'el's recent debate on the Divinity of Yeshua, I made a statement that was misunderstood by several people. For this I would like to apologize; while I believed I said it correctly, it is the communicator's responsibility to make their message clear; this I apparently failed to do.

What we Teach and Believe about Yeshua

We believe that:

* Yeshua is the Messiah and is the Shekhinah of G-D and that His Spiritual nature is of the Divine essence (part of G-D).
* That Yeshua existed as the Shekhinah from the beginning and was not created but is part of G-D.
* His human body was miraculously conceived by G-D in the womb of the virgin Mariam.
* He lived a sinless life.
* He died as a sacrifice to redeem us from sin.
* He bodily was resurrected as proof the sacrifice was accepted.
* He ascended into Heaven.
* He will return to reclaim the Earth for Adonai.
* True faith in Him redeems a person from sin.

The root of the misunderstanding

Apparently where I failed to communicate properly was in explaining our belief that Scripture does not explicitly state a person must believe Messiah is Divine to be redeemed.

Several times in Scripture it says that we must believe that Yeshua was sent by G-D, died for our sins and was resurrected. Nowhere does the Tanakh or Brit Chadasha state we must believe He is part of G-D. It does say "sent by G-d" and "came from G-d."

What does it mean

We believe it is critical that a person understands the relationship of Yeshua to G-D, that His Spirit is the Shekhinah of G-D (part of G-D, the visible Presence of G-D) and that His body was born of woman and is human (though born without the sin nature). This is important because a man, no matter how perfect, could not by himself pay for all the sins of fallen humanity. That is where His divine nature comes in to play. By the fact of His Spirit and rightful honor being infinite, He was able to take all the shame for sin that we deserve.

Where we must be careful is that we do not add to G-D's Word when it comes to what is required for Redemption. Where Scripture does not explicitly state something is required for Salvation, I do not think we should add to it. Some examples:

* Is keeping Shabbat a requirement for Redemption? Scripture says a person who violates Shabbat is to be stoned and is cut-off from Israel.
* Is keeping Kosher? A person who eats pig and shrimp is unclean, does that mean they are not redeemed?
* What about drinking wine? Some denominations treat it as a serious sin.
* Smoking? We have had Christians tell people who smoke they could not be redeemed.
* Is a person who is sprinkled saved, when Scripture says to be immersed?

Only drinking & smoking are not explicitly discussed in scripture. Each of the others is clearly stated as required. Yet I know few who believe in Messiah who believe the person is not redeemed if they do (or don't do) those things. Even more telling are smoking and drinking, which clearly were man-made additions to what G-d calls sin. I do not know one serious student of Scripture that would say a person cannot be Redeemed because they drink or smoke--yet some people are spreading these falsehoods.

In the above examples we do not believe that Scripture teaches they are required for redemption (see Acts 15:13-21). Similarly we believe it would be improper to present them as required. Just as those examples above are not required for Redemption, we think it is unwise to add belief that Messiah is Divine to the requirement for Redemption when Scripture does not clearly state it is required.

In Summary

I hope from the above examples you can see why we stated we could not judge a person's salvation based on whether they believe Messiah is divine. Our Synagogue teaches, and leadership believes fully, He is of the Divine Essence (part of G-D). What I was trying to communicate (and failed to do clearly) is that we cannot say a person is not Redeemed if they do not believe Messiah is Divine. We too should neither add or take away from Scripture.

What we can and should do is lovingly try and help see the importance of Him being of the Divine Essence. I think Mikha'el did just that in the debates.

Rabbi Gavri'el

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Sha'ul / Paul - The maligned, misunderstood, and misinterpreted Emissary

Sha'ul / Paul - The maligned, misunderstood, and misinterpreted Emissary

Probably no other person ever to live has been more maligned, misunderstood, and misinterpreted than Sha'ul / Paul.


Sha'ul is the brunt of resentment and outright hatred in some quarters. Many Jewish Groups see him as a Jew turned traitor, who converted to a foreign religion that has persecuted Jews for almost 2000 years. Some that believe in Yeshua as Messiah totally reject all of his writings based on their seemingly Anti-Torah basis (Ebonites to give an example).

While this view is one of the easiest to follow (maligning someone takes little effort or understanding), is it accurate?


"Paul left Judaism and became a Christian". This is a widely held belief, in both Judaism and Christianity. There is only one problem, it is not true. Paul, whose Hebrew name is Sha'ul, called himself a Jew and a Pharisee long after he began following Messiah Yeshua. Many do not realize he continued to go to the Temple and make sacrifice after he believed on Yeshua.

To claim Sha'ul the Jew became Paul the Christian is based on ignorance of his continued life as a Jew and is Scripturally and historically inaccurate. Sha'ul remained Sha'ul the Jew for his entire life. When dealing with Gentiles and introducing them to the G-d of Israel and His Messiah, he used Paul (his Roman name) as it was less foreign and more respected. Was he being two-faced then? G-d forbid! No, he was meeting the person where they were at, so they would be open to the message.


Sha'ul's (Paul's) writings cannot be interpreted correctly outside their cultural (Jewish) and historical context. Paul was so misinterpreted even in his own day that Kefa (Peter) said that 'his writings are difficult and hard to understand', and 'many are misusing them to their own destruction'. If Peter was saying Paul's writings were leading unstable people to destruction at the time of their writing; how much worse could it be today, almost 2000 years later.

Paul's writings are the basis for the antinomian (anti-Torah) basis for almost every group today. This leads to a real problem - If Messiah says to keep the commandments (Torah) and Paul says not too, who wins? Who will we listen to? More importantly, who has the Authority to make a ruling like that?

In Summary

Sha'ul (Paul), as we will learn during our new teaching series on Romans, was a Jew amongst Jews; who never stopped being a Jew. Nor did he found a new religion called Christianity. He was a Emissary of Yeshua sent out to bring the good news to the Gentile world. He never told Jews to stop circumcising, stop eating kosher, or stop keeping Shabbat; for he himself did all these things (see Timothy).

What he did do was uphold the teaching that a Gentile did not have to become a Jew to be saved.

Rabbi Gavri'el

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Is "3 Persons" Accurate Scripturally?

Is describing G-d as 3 persons scripturally accurate?

We have been struggling with 1 key aspect of the Nicene Creed for several years now. This key aspect is referring to G-d as 3 persons.

What We Believe Before we are misunderstood, I would like to state for the record that we teach and believe: Yeshua is the Messiah of Israel, He was born of a virgin, was sinless, died on the execution stake, bodily resurrected, ascended to the Father and will return to establish His Fathers Throne on Earth. So please do not misunderstand nor misrepresent that we deny the Messiah or His divinity.

How the "3 person" wording came into widespread use When the early Church was being attacked by Gnosticism and other doctrines that either denied that Messiah was (part of) G-d, or that He was not human; the concept of the Trinity came into being. This doctrine attempted to address 2 key points made in scripture, that Messiah was of the same essence as G-d, and that the Ruach HaKpdesh was of the same essence of G-d. Both these teachings are fully reflected in the Renewed Covenant.

Issues with the "3 person" wording While the Trinity doctrine truly expressed Messiah and the Ruach being of a divine nature; it had one major drawback, it implied a separateness that does not exist in scripture.

The most important statement in scripture according to the Torah and the Messiah is "Hear oh Israel, the L-rd our G-d is one G-d". The Master (Messiah) repeated these very words. How then can there be 3 persons making up one G-d? If we study history, we will see this has been a major stumbling block to Jewish belief in Yeshua as Messiah. In fact, this view is seen by most Jews as Polytheism.

I think we would all agree that there are not 3 G-d's, only one. Furthermore, it is clear from scripture that neither Yeshua or the Ruach HaKodesh do anything apart from the Father. Yeshua Himself says He does nothing apart from the Father, and that He only does the will of the Father.

If Yeshua & the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Breath or Spirit) only do what they are commanded; how then are they separate persons?

One of the concepts of persons was derived from the fact the Spirit can be grieved; but is that not equally true if G-d is grieved through His Spirit?

An alternative wording A far more understandable wording of the nature of the Father, the Messiah, and the Ruach HaKodesh is: G-d, His Shekinah, and His Spirit. These concepts are all central to Jewish belief and both the Shekinah & Ruach are seen as being manifestations of one G-d.

The Shekinah is the visible presence of G-d, as Yeshua was when He was on earth. The Shekinah was also with the G-d from the beginning and is divine. This means that calling Yeshua the Shekinah of G-d is totally scriptural, as is the Ruach HaKodesh.

In Summary

The "3 persons" of the Nicene creed as a man made attempt to describe the nature of G-d and His Messiah. It served well when addressing Gnosticism; but failed when addressing Jewish thought on the nature of G-d.

By replacing the "3 person" reference with a much more scripturally accurate description of Shekinah & Ruach,; we can still fully acknowledge Messiah and the Ruach as being of the divine nature and part of G-d without presenting what most people see as 3 G-ds.

This is a small price to pay to remove a major stumbling block to our people; without denying the true nature of the Messiah as part of G-d.

Rabbi Gavri'el

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Why is sacrifice required?

Why is sacrifice required?

Recently a friend asked me a very good question, one that I expect most of us have asked at one time or another - Why didn't Adonai just save everyone?

Why did our ancestors wander in the desert for 40 years, with all adults over 20 perishing except Joshua & Caleb.

Why did Messiah have to die for us?

I think the answer to this question revolves around a couple of key thoughts: Free Will and Sanctifying G-D's name.

Free Will

Adonai chose to create man with free will, the ability to choose right from wrong. At first the test was simple; "don't eat of the fruit of the Tree of knowledge (or good and evil). Our fore-father failed this test.

In the Exodus from Egypt, our Fore-Fathers had visible proof of Adonai's provision; yet they had Free-will and chose to not trust G-D.

Likewise we today have the Torah, and the Words of the Master (Yeshua); we also have free-will and most choose not to follow G-D.

G-D had a choice, He could create robots to praise Him; but what would that mean? Isn't His way better? He created man to have a choice. While most will choose not to follow Him, some will choose to. Thus by their free will they have chosen to love Adonai and to follow him.

Which would you prefer, a slave who has no choice but to serve you, or someone who serves and worships you out of Love and Trust. I think the choice is clear.

Sanctifying G-D's name

So now lets address Part Two - why a sacrifice was required.

G-D is a perfect balance of many attributes, of which Mercy and Justice are paramount. If Adonai does not punish sin, He is not Just. Who amongst us wants to see a child-molester or rapist go unpunished? I suspect we all believe justice demands punishment.

On the Mercy side, who here does not want mercy from G-D when He examines our sins? I suspect we all want mercy.

Scripture is clear, all have sinned, some more, some less, but all are stained by sin. So how can Adonai maintain the Justice His Character requires, and display Mercy to those who cry out to Him. That is the purpose of the sacrifice. The sacrifice takes the punishment Justice demands, allowing the mercy of G-D to then act.

Sacrifice of Messiah

So where does the Messiah's death fit into this? The Passover Lamb and the Scape-goat are the perfect picture of this. Just as the Passover lamb had to die to ransom (redeem, buy back) the first born from death; the Messiah had to die to ransom us from death.

In Messiah, the function of Passover & Yom Kippur merge as a ransom was paid to the Adversary to ransom us from him, and a sin offering was made to Adonai to satisfy His justice and allow His mercy to flow down on us.

Likewise, just as the scape goat had all the sins of Israel placed on it, and was then lead outside the camp. So to the Messiah had to have all the sins placed on Him to be lead outside the camp to die in our place.

It is key to note, in both Yom Kippur and Passover, an action was required on the part of the person receiving the ransom or forgiveness. They had to participate and accept that the sacrifice was for them.

It hasn't changed, G-D's plan is the same, we have to accept the sacrifice and trust G-D for Salvation through that sacrifice.

In Summary

While I realize this is a simple explanation, I hope it helps. I stumble and struggle with these same issues that each of you do. So when I believe G-D has shown me a way to understand it, I like to pass it along hoping it helps someone else.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Celebrating Passover

Celebrating Passover

The importance of Passover is often lost on many believers. There seems to be a general misunderstanding of this celebration. Often it is classified as a "Jewish Holiday". Many grafted-in believers see no reason to celebrate this special season.

This attitude is sadly the majority view. Few realize this attitude grew out of history and unfortunately bad teachings & Antisemitism of the 1st-4th century. Let's look at the History and the reasons for keeping Passover.


Passover was celebrated by the Messiah during His earthly life. His followers continued observing Passover for decades with many continuing several centuries. With the influx of large numbers of Gentiles and the Jewish revolts, most Congregations became Gentile lead by the second century. Gentile Bishops like Ignatius advocated moving Gentiles away from any Jewish Practices (including Shabbat).

By the mid to late second century, men like Marcion actively tried to separate the Faith in Messiah from the G-d of the "Old Testament" (Tanakh). While he was later declared a heretic, neo-Marcionism is still influencing the Church today. Gentile leaders, facing persecution from Rome, moved practices away from Judaism in an effort to avoid persecution being experienced by the Jews. This practice and separation culminated in 325 CE with Constantine forever altering the celebration of the resurrection from aligning with Passover. Additionally ordnances were passed in the Church forbidding believers from celebrating Passover.

The Joy and reason for Passover:

Passover is a celebration of G-d's deliverance of Israel from slavery. For a grafted-in believer Passover is not only deliverance from Egypt (through our spiritual father Abraham and his descendants), but also deliverance from the Slavery of Sin and Death. We have every reason to celebrate Passover: because Messiah did, because He commands us to, because we are grafted into Israel, and because of the freedom from sin that was brought forth on that day.

In Summary

People rejoice of Resurrection Day, as they should, for He is risen, thus proving Adonai accepted the perfect sacrifice. We should also celebrate on Passover, for on that day our people were redeemed from Egypt; but even more importantly, we were freed from sin.

There is no Resurrection Day without Passover. It was on Passover that His blood was shed, it was on Passover that we where redeemed.

For Passover is even greater than Resurrection day, for it was on Passover that we became reconciled to G-d and the Adversary lost his claim to us.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Celebrating the Resurrection

Celebrating the Resurrection

With our Sunday brothers concentrating on celebrating Resurrection Day in 2 weeks, it may not be clear as to why we do not celebrate Resurrection day on the same day, and why we do not call it "Easter".

First let's discuss the timing so we as a Synagogue can better explain to those who ask.

Just as we believe the Shabbat is important; we believe all of Adonai's Moed'im (appointed times) are important. The Resurrection occurred on Nissan 17 the year our Messiah died for our sins. This Day, exactly 3 days after Passover, was forever linked to the Passover. For at Passover our Messiah died for us, and on Nissan 17, He was resurrected to show G-d had accepted the perfect sacrifice.

Furthermore, Nissan 17 is the Feast of First Fruits by one of the 2 traditions held on when First Fruits is to be celebrated (we follow this interpretation). Thus G-d chose First Fruits to bring forth His First Fruits of the promised resurrection.

That being the case, we feel very strongly that just as man does not have the authority to change Shabbat; man does not have the authority to change Passover or First Fruits. Thus we celebrate these 2 critical events according to G-d's calendar as stated in scripture.

As for using the term Resurrection Day vs Easter. Many today are switching to the term Resurrection Day to better identify the reason for the celebration. The origins of the word Easter have nothing to do with our Messiah and may have pagan meanings. We believe this is a very positive move as we are to have nothing to do with any form or practice which distracts from the Messiah.

So what about Easter Eggs & Bunnies. Each person must decide for themselves. We do not subscribe to those as a Synagogue as they have a mixed history and clearly do not point to the Messiah.

In Summary

We are called to follow G-d and His Messiah. We believe that includes following His appointed times and seasons. So if your friends ask about Easter, explain lovingly we celebrate Resurrection Day on the day G-d appointed it to happen over 3500 years ago.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Torah & Salvation

Torah & Salvation

While we as a Congregation have a strong love and respect for the Torah, sometimes the role of the Torah creates confusion in our minds. To clarify this, let's discuss the role of the Torah, and the role of the Messiah.

The Torah is Adonai's perfect W-rd. We believe it was given directly by G-d (through Messiah) to Moshe. The Torah is a covenant, a wedding contract (Ketubah); it defines a way of life for us. This way of life defines how we interact with man and G-d. The Torah defines right and wrong. The Torah does not provide a way of obtaining salvation. No one (except Messiah) is able to keep every commandment perfectly. Thus when Rabbi Sha'ul (Paul) speaks of Torah showing us our sin, he specifically is saying that we cannot live Torah out in our own strength.

Messiah came to make the Torah understood, and to correct errors of teaching that had occurred. More than that though, He came to provide the Mercy & Grace needed for us to obtain a right standing with G-d. Many prayers, espically at Yom Kippur, state "we have no deeds that commend us to you (G-d)". Thus we can see that it is G-d himself that must provide the salvation, it cannot be earned by following Torah alone.

Some in the Messianic Movement get so enamored with traditional Judaism that they come to the point where Torah becomes more important than Messiah. We do not have that option. Torah will not save us. Only G-d can save us, and He has chosen Messiah to be the agent for that salvation.

We must learn to walk in the middle of the path G-d has called us to. Not going to the right or left. The right, Torah without Messiah will not save us. The left, Messiah without Torah, is not keeping with G-d's word as we are not abiding in Him, nor keeping His commands (1st John chapter 3).

In Summary

We are called to follow G-d and His Messiah, and to keep Torah. That is the way the Master told us to live, abiding in Him and His W-rd.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Olive Tree Theology

When people discuss Theology, many terms are used. Two of the most common are: Replacement Theology and Dispensation. These two Theologies reflect how the adherents view Adonai's working in the world.

Replacement Theology states that the Church has replaced Israel and G-d is no longer working with the Jewish nation. We totally reject this Theology considering it unBiblical and anti-Semitic.

Dispensation Theology states that G-d works differently through periods (dispensations) of mans development. Thus there are a number (3-7) of dispensations, from innocence (before sin) through Mosaic (the Torah) to Grace (Messiah). While this view does say G-d will again deal with national Israel, it fails to consider that G-d does not change. Thus we do not hold to this Theology.

So what Theology do we adhere to? The Olive Tree Theology. This view is well stated in David Sterns Messianic Manifesto. In a nut shell, it states all Gentiles who come to belief are grafted into Israel, not taking the place of Israel. This view is totally in agreement with Rabbi's Sha'ul's (Paul) statements in Romans.

So why do we view Olive Tree as superior to Replacement and Dispensational Theology? Primarily because too many times those adhering to either Replacement and Dispensational Theology are by deed (and sometimes word) rejecting the concept that they are grafted into Israel. Yet without being grafted in, from where does their nourishment and root come from?

In Summary

We adhere to the view that all Believers, Jew or former Gentile, are grafted into Israel. It is from the Forefathers and Prophets we gain our root; which ultimately ties us to Messiah and Adonai.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Apologies - sick


My Apologies, my family and I have had the Flu, so we are behind on posting.


Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Maturing in our walk

Maturing in our walk

Over the last month we have talked a lot about the Messianic Lifestyle and Discipleship. So to what purpose is all this discussion? Hopefully it will equip and encourage each of us to strive to walk closer to G-d and His Messiah.

This walking close is best shown in Rabbi Sha'uls statement about "renewing the mind". Renewing the mind is changing our focus on things of this world, and instead focusing on G-d and how He would have us act. At Beth Ha'Mashiach we have chosen to adopt many practices the Messiah utilized when He walked the earth to help us conform to this new image and renew our mind.

So what specifically does maturing in the faith mean, and how can the Synagogue help? The Synagogue strives to provide training, environment and opportunities for people to become Talmidim (Disciples) and grow in their walk. These (training, environment and opportunity) work together to help the individual mature. While some maturity can occur only utilizing 1 or 2 of the above methods, growth is best achieved by integrating all 3 aspects.

Let's look at what is available, and how it helps us grow.

* Weekly Services - provide growth and discipleship through allowing the teaching of key concepts, experiencing the festival cycle, hearing the word, corporate prayer and opportunity to serve others
* Feast Days - provide teachings about Adonai's great truths presented in those days and provides a rhythm and cycle revolving around Adonai for our lives
* Shabbat - provides a weekly reminder of Adonai's provision and stresses obedience to G-d over the world by ceasing work on one day a week.
* Lifecycle - stresses the life of each individual through many key events and how that life cycle is provided for by G-d for our blessings. Events like birth, circumcision & naming, Pidyon Haben, Bar / Bat Mitzvah, marriage, and even passing to the next world are all part of G-ds Plan.
* Synagogue Membership - Introduction to Messianic Beliefs - Membership entails commitment. Commitment is necessary for any real growth. We have all heard, "no pain, no gain". This is true in sports, life, and relationship to G-d. The requirement for the teaching CD's (and small test to make sure key beliefs are understood) becomes the foundation to build upon as we grow in knowledge and wisdom of Adonai.
* Bar / Bat Mitzvah & Discipleship Training - We now combine these as they naturally fit together. Where many Synagogues stress only memorizing Hebrew. We want both a knowledge of Hebrew and a solid understanding of Messianic Judaism, Jewish life cycles and principles to help us continue to grow.
* Yeshiva - the Yeshiva provides the opportunity for a well rounded understanding of beliefs and principles behind Messianic Judaism. 5 levels of teaching are provided from someone wanting to take one course (only certain courses apply), to those wanting to obtain 1 of 4 levels of training, including training required for ordination.
* Service - Service is a critical step in discipleship as all that we have learned gets focused outward to help the individual need and the needs of the Congregation / Community. Service is the fruit of all our discipleship efforts. There are many opportunities for service, all of them important to the body. All that is needed is a willing person who understands the need to mature into the position of service them aspire too.
* Conversion - I hesitate to put this in as it can cause controversy, yet I feel it is important to realize that conversion is a from of dicispleship. It is not for everyone, nor is it required; but for those choosing to do it, it is a definite commitment to a lifestyle of discipleship.

In Summary

Hopefully we can see that the Synagogue provides a comprehensive plan for members to grow in their walk with G-d. Each person is at a different place in their walk, so we are not to judge one-another on where we are. We are however to: encourage one-another on that walk, provide a path of growth in that walk, and to assist those on their walk with Adonai.

Rabbi Gavri'el

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Yetzar Hara & Original Sin

Yetzar Hara & Original Sin

The Yetzar Hara is defined on Wikipedia as: Yetzer hara (Hebrew for "evil inclination") refers to the inclination to do evil, by violating the will of God. The yetzer hara is identified with Satan. defines Yetzer Hara as:
The yetzer hara represents the inner impulse or tendency within the human heart to gravitate toward selfish gratification (the word yetzer first appears in Genesis 6:5 where the wickedness of man is described as "every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually"). The yetzer hatov, on the other hand, represents the inner impulse to do good.

Yetzer is also used in Scripture to refer to something formed or shaped, like pottery fashioned by the hand of a potter. Just as a potter purposes a shape in his or her mind before forming an object, so that which is intended within the mind will shape or form our character and disposition, especially with regard to our relationship with God.

The following prayer appeals to the LORD to help us love His Torah and His mitzvot and also to keep us from the power of the evil inclination within us that pushes us into sin, pride, perversity, temptation, and shame:
Blessed art Thou, LORD our God, King of the universe, who removes sleep from my eyes and slumber from my eyelids. May it be Your will, LORD our God and God of our fathers to accustom us to Your Torah and attach us to Your mitzvot. And do not lead us into the hands of sin, nor into the hands of pride or perversity, not into the hands of temptation, nor into the hands of shame, and do not let the evil inclination rule over us.

The Yetzer Hara has many striking characteristics that identify it with the evil desires of the heart that Yeshua taught about and to Rabbi Sha'uls teachings about the flesh (It is from these teachings that Gnostics who claim to follow Messiah, believe physical is evil). Let's ask a key question, is the Yetzer Hara what the Church now calls "original sin". When studying the Masters words, the concept of the Yetzer Hara appears to be the same as the flesh, or our fleshly desires. This corresponds with the Jewish concept of the Yetzer Hara.

So what did we actually inherit from Adam? Was it sin? If so that seems to violate the statement that the punishment for sin of the fathers is limited to the 3-4 generation (Adam was many more generations before Yeshua). Another explanation then seems to be in order. What was inherited was not the sin or punishment of sin (Original Sin); but the propensity (predisposition) to sin (rebel against G-d and seek our own will). This corresponds exactly with Sha'uls (Paul's) writings about overcoming the flesh! So thus we are not condemned because of Adam's sin: we are predisposed to seek our own way, not G-d's, which is sin.

The Yetzer Hara is opposed by the Yetzer HaTov (The good inclination). We will address the Yetzer HaTov more at a later date. This duality is seen well in children, as they will lie and do what they know is wrong; without being taught. It is only by teaching what is right that they learn to control themselves and not do wrong.

In Summary

What the Messiah's sacrifice did for us is it provided the sacrifice required for the sin offering; reconciling us to G-d. His sacrifice cleared the rebellion between us and G-d; He gave us a fresh start. Further His sacrifice provided a High Priest to make intercession for us in Heaven (see Messianic Jews). With His accession to G-d, the Ruach HaKodesh then was sent to us to give us the Torah on our hearts and the ability to rule over & overcome the Yetzer Hara. Messiah paid the penalty for sin; we are now responsible to live a life pleasing to G-d by walking in Holiness.

Blessings Rabbi Gavri'el

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Messianic Lifestyle - Prayer Pt. 3

Messianic Lifestyle - Prayer Pt. 3

How should our prayer be different as Messianics?

Prayer and Praise should be central in the life of any believer. Yet research shows this is not the case. The average Christian prays 30 seconds per day; the average Pastor prays 60 seconds. With a pray life that anemic, is it any wonder many believers lack power and a sense of G-d in their lives.

Prayer involves not only uttering words; but preparation , praise, and an intimate communication with Adonai. Let's look into the elements of Prayer.


Many from a Church background look with misunderstanding, and sometimes even contempt at the preparation involved in Jewish Prayer. There is little understanding as to why these prayers are said each day, often several times. Why the hand washing, the Tallit (Prayer shaw), and the Tefillin (bindings on head and arm). The fact that prayers are said often in Hebrew, and that they are formal written prayers leads to charges of legalism.

This unfortunate reaction is caused by lack of understanding. Prayers can be said in English, Russian, Hebrew, or any other language. Yet Hebrew is preferred due to 2 important factors: Most Jews regardless of country of residence, know the prayers in Hebrew, and the scripture most of the prayers quote or are derived from where written in Hebrew (G-d gave the scriptures (Tanakh) in Hebrew). Hebrew is also a common tie that binds the Community together (see Community below).

The Tallit and Tefillin server a distinct purpose in prayer. The act of putting them on places a person in an attitude of prayer. The steps involved are all scripturally based and in all likelihood the Messiah wore both Tallit & Tefillin. This emulation of the Messiah, and the purposeful preparation to approach El-Ohim helps a person focus on the importance of prayer, and of approaching the King of the Universe. We sometimes spend so much time thinking of G-d as "Daddy", that we forget He is King. When Yosef (Joseph) went from prison to Pharaoh did he not stop to bath and prepare to go before him? Should we respect G-d less than Pharaoh?

Additionally there are many prayers and Psalms readings that are preparation for saying the greatest of all prayers the Amidah & Shema. As there are also prayers in preparation for reading the Torah. These have been added as time has passed to prepare a person to step closer and closer to Adonai's presence in Prayer.

Perpetration to go into G-d's presence should not be confused with legalism. Preparation is a sign of tremendous respect for our Creator G-d and His Messiah.


The fixed pattern of prayer also has many confused. Yet this fixed pattern has many opportunities for individual expression and petitions. One primary goal of a fixed pattern is that it provides the basis to begin the communication with G-d. Think about it, how many times have we said, "I don't know how to pray", or "I don't know what to pray". A fixed pattern gets the prayer moving in the desired direction and opens the communication path. It also servers to cover all aspects of prayer. Many pray "G-d give me this, or do that", is that the proper attitude before our Creator? He knows our needs, and will supply them. Prayer is not asking for things, it is communication, praise, and fellowship with G-d.

One often cited complaint in fixed prayer is not "spiritual", or somehow less than spontaneous prayer? Really? Then why did Yeshua's Talmidim ask Him to teach them to pray? What was His response, a liturgical fixed prayer "Our Father who art in Heaven, Holy is your name". If fixed prayer was the model the Master used, it should be good for us also.


Jewish & Messianic Jewish Prayer incorporates both private and public prayer. Many prayers are designed to pray alone, but the majority are meant for community prayer. Community, like family, is taught, nurtured and strived for in the Jewish & Messianic Jewish faith. That is why most prayers are in the plural using our Father, our King; not singular my Father, My King.

Many prayers can only be recited aloud if 10 adults (bar Mitzvah age or older) are present. So why is this minyan (10) required (opening the Torah for reading out load at the Synagogue also requires 10 people)? The answer is simple; 10 represents a community of believers in the one true G-d. Many might be surprised that we actually count to make sure we have 10 on Friday nights (if a small crowd) in order to pray the Amidah. Is this legalism? No it is community!

Object of Prayer

This should be self-evident, but in fact it may cause some discomfort to people. Please consider these word's fully and verify if what is being said is true.

We should pray to Adonai in Yeshua's name, not to Yeshua. Yeshua Himself said to pray to the Father. All examples in scripture show praying to Adonai (the Father). Praying to Yeshua is not taught in scripture.

Yeshua made it clear, He came at the Fathers command, and did and said what the Father instructed. Yeshua totally submitted Himself to the Father. We should be very careful to follow His lead. Yeshua is part of G-d, He is not greater than the Father.

So, in summary, Messianic prayers leave room for spontaneous prayers, ; but are built around a liturgy that is 100's or 1000's of years old. Many of these prayers Yeshua said in the Synagogue and heard in the Temple. They are based fully on scripture and serve to encompass both praise and prayer to our El-Ohim. They encourage preparation to approach the King and involve not only the person but the entire community.

Blessings - Rabbi Gavri'el

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Messianic Lifestyle - Holiness Pt. 2

Messianic Lifestyle - Holiness Pt. 2

What characterizes our beliefs as Messianics?

Our lifestyle should glorify G-d by how we speak and act. This should touch all parts of our life, not just when we are in the Synagogue. Let's examine several areas of life in which we, as Messianic Jews & Hebrews, should take great care in letting His light shine in us:

In The Home

The home is a "mini temple" of G-d. Our homes should reflect our beliefs, and honor G-d. What about our homes should speak of G-d? Just about everything can speak about our relationship to Him. From the Mezzuzah, when we walk into the house, to the decorations. One key part we need to strive for is Shalom in the house (not just watching Shalom in the Home TV series). Our homes should be refuges of peace and tranquility. Today, most parents are so stressed out working, running children to and fro, and other activities that the home is not at rest.

We need to slow down, remove clutter in our lives, and stop being a virtual taxi running to and fro. The table is considered a type of alter, not of sacrifice; but of consecration to G-d, where the family gathers together to eat, talk, and fellowship. Is the TV on non-stop? TV has become an idol to many. Constant noise drowns out the still quiet voice of G-d speaking through our spirit. Turn the TV off, and rest in G-d.

We need to ask ourselves this question, if a visitor comes into our house, will they see or precieve anything different about us? Do our beliefs show through in our home?

In our words

Scripture likens the tongue to a sword, for it can cut, maim and kill. It likens it to a rudder on a great ship, where it steers the ship, even though it is very small. Our sages teach us the tongue is to be guarded; that is why we have two gates, the teeth and the lips, to control when it is allowed to speak. Many a marriage has ended due to the inability of one or both partners being unable to control their tongue.

LaShon Hara - the evil tongue, is a concept we need to understand and follow. Speech can hurt. Repeating information about someone "gossip" is a sin. Gossiping and trying to cover it by saying "we only said it so we could pray for the person" is not a valid excuse. Often times we go to others to "make our case" or garner support before approaching someone on an issue. This is questionable, as it is often veiled gossip. Scripture says "go to your brother", not talk to 10 people to figure out if we should go to our brother.

Remember, a kind word turns away wraith.

In our deeds

Our actions, from visible actions like wearing Tzitzit and helping others; to our behavior and honesty in dealing with people, have a lot to say about us as believers. Do we act in a way that is representative of what we believe? Do we treat others with love and respect? Are we honest? The world looks at these things and they form an opinion both about us, and about the G-d we serve, based on those actions.

Once, when I worked for a company that sold to Christian Bookstores, I was appalled at how poorly these people viewed Christians. When I dug a little, I found this opinion was formed by how badly the Christian Bookstores paid their bills. Assoc. Rabbi Michael told me about a prominent Christian leader (had been a business leader in private business) who was shocked how poor believers work ethics were compared to the secular workforce.

Are we rude, do we run out after service to the local restaurants and treat the people there as serfs? Ask waitresses about the Sunday lunch crowd, coming from church, and stand back, you will get a very unflattering response. Comments will range from rude, impatient, cheapskates; to hypocrites.

One of my personal weaknesses is how I drive. I suspect others may also be guilty. Moving with the flow of traffic is a necessity in the area; but we should not get upset if we are the one the policeman pulls over. Do we make hand gestures, yell, cut people off? To my embarrassment, I am realizing that having a bumper sticker proclaiming a Jewish Messiah is not a positive if I'm acting like the devil.

So in summary, Messianic Beliefs should lead to a Messianic Lifestyle. That lifestyle should encompass our homes, how we act, and how we speak. Many are content to be 2 hour believers. They give G-d 2 hours a week, and thats about it. He does not fit into their hectic daily lives. That is not what G-d wants, or frankly, demands. He demands committed believers, who are trying to walk in the path of the Messiah - everyday. Will we mess-up and fall short - sure! That is what is so wonderful about Grace & Mercy. The Master made the way, all we need to do is follow Him.

Audio Teaching Messianic Lifestyle - Holiness

Blessings - Rabbi Gavri'el

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Messianic Lifestyle - Holiness

What characterizes our beliefs as Messianics?

To our Sunday brothers & sisters, true Messianic Judaism can seem foreign and unfamiliar. Many assume that Messianic Judaism is Church with a few Jewish symbols thrown in, a little Hebrew to spice things up, and some really good music. That is exactly what we strive not to be.

There are many Messianic groups who do fit the above description, so why are we different? The difference is much deeper than symbols, some Hebrew and music: it is about a lifestyle.

We do not believe a Congregation can call itself a Messianic Synagogue if they do not advocate a Torah observant lifestyle. Thus Congregations where people wear Tzitzit, kippa, play Paul Wilbur, and blow Shofars are not Messianic Synagogues if they do not recognize the Authority of the Torah. Additionally, beyond recognizing the Authority of Torah, there needs to be an emphasis on living out the mitzvah (commands). Why is living out the mitzvah important? It is not, as some say Messianics teach, "To be saved"; as salvation is a gift from Adonai. It is following the words of Messiah Yeshua, and keeping His commands. The commands He gave were the Torah.

So why is Torah so important? In a single word - Holiness. We are called to "be Holy for I am Holy". Messiah said, if you love me, keep my commands.

* 1st Yochanan (John) Chapter 3:4-6 says "Everyone who keeps sinning is violating Torah - indeed, sin is violation of Torah. You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and that there is no sin in him. So no one who remains united with him continues sinning; everyone who does continue sinning has neither seen him nor known him."

So G-ds word clearly identifies belonging to Him with keeping Torah, and the Master said the very same words!

So keeping the Torah, observing the mitzvah, are not for salvation, as we know from the Shaliach (Apostles) and from the Tanakh itself. This can be clearly seen in the Yom Kippur Prayers, where we pray 'we have no deeds' that reconcile us to G-d. It is for a life of Holiness, as it is said "It's ways are ways of righteousness, and all it's paths are peace."

Blessings - Rabbi Gavri'el

Audio Teaching Messianic Lifestyle - Holiness

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

2007 in retrospect

2007 has been both challenging and rewarding.

On the challenging side
we lost 2-3 families over issues of doctrine, practice, or personality issues. Finances due to the new location and the loss of two Sunday groups renting the facilities have also created a budget shortfall (One church ceased to function, the other broke the lease). This $800 to $1200 monthly shortfall hopefully will be corrected by bringing another Church in on Sunday.

While the loss of any family or person is to be mourned; we must realize that when a body strives to live and teach as our Messiah lived and taught, some will not make the transition. The transition to being truly Messianic Jewish, as opposed to being a Church with some Jewish symbols thrown in, is a difficult one. We should not look down on those who chose to move on; but instead wish them well. We hope and pray Adonai leads them to a place of peace.

On the positive side
, we have gained new families and what I believe is a renewed sense of purpose and direction. We have moved from being a Hebrew Roots body to a Messianic Jewish Synagogue in both practice and beliefs. Let's recap some other key blessings that have occurred (We means the Synagogue as a whole):

* We occupied the new Building
* The addition of the Prayer Wall
* The wall hangings from Israel
* The Sanctuary Menorah
* The Mikvah was completed
* The new bookstore was completed and a much larger stock on items are now available
* We acquired a second Torah
* We acquired a Bema and Lectern
* We graduated our largest Bar / Bat Mitzvah class
* We redesigned the Bar / Bat Mitzvah class to be more in-line with other Bar Mitzvah classes (materials covered)
* We began our Congregational Yeshiva (we are beginning the 4th Qtr)
* We held several Sisterhood Meetings
* We held our first Messianic Jewish conversion
* We increased the Liturgy and added Hebrew Torah readings
* We had 138 people at our Congregation Passover
* We lead several external Passovers for more than 500 people
* We had 5 televised events reaching approximately 1 million people each
* Our Internet sites reached over 300,000 people yearly.

When weighed on equal scales, the good clearly outweighed the challenges we faced. During a time when our Sunday Brothers in the Church saw a 25 million reduction in attendees (source Barna Group), that we have remained relatively steady and where able to grow in key spiritual areas is a blessing from Adonai.

Blessings - Rabbi Gavri'el